Seeing the world through the lens of reality

23 Jun

I think there is a very different way religious and secular people see the world. Do you remember the periodic table of elements from high school chemistry?

elementsHow often do you ever think of these elements? I’m not a scientist, but I think about them a lot. If you remember, everything in on this planet is made up of these elements. Everything. The screen you are reading this on, the chair you’re sitting in, the tires on your car, the food you had for lunch, the pillow on your bed, all are made up of some combination of these elements.

I look at a tree and don’t just see a tree, I see Hydrogen, Oxygen, Carbon, Nitrogen, Potassium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Sulfur, Sodium, Silicon, Iron, Boron, Strontium, and Aluminum. These are the elements that make up wood. (May vary slightly depending on the tree)

redwood-trunk

Basically, when I see something, I don’t just see the object, but I am consciously aware of the fact that that object is composed of various different elements. There is nothing magical, nothing supernatural about anything.

When you pray to a wooden cross, you are praying to a group of the above mentioned elements that merely have their atoms arranged in the shape of a cross. It has no special power. The same is true for every “holy object” in the word. They are simply objects with elements and atoms. Nothing special.

The wafer you eat at communion is just a wafer, the wine is just wine, with all the elements and atoms that make up the two. There is no special magical power.

3 Responses to “Seeing the world through the lens of reality”

  1. isnessie June 24, 2009 at 12:21 am #

    Interesting perspective… really breaks things down to reality huh?

  2. Alex Schröder June 25, 2009 at 5:26 am #

    As a scientist, there is one baffling thing that remains: There is no explanation for my consciousness. Once you accept that there is a consciousness separating you from the wood, it opens the road to all sorts of questions. I just happen to think that by using Occam’s Razor we can dismiss most of them as introducing too many external entities (it’s just plain simpler to assume that the cross is made of wood and that’s that), and by using the principles of the Copenhagen Interpretation, it would seem to me that it is pointless to argue about the true nature of things unless we can design experiements to attempt and falsify them (and unless we’re just doing it to entertain ourselves, of course).

    Anyway, just because the cross is made of wood doesn’t mean that we already have a scientific explanation for everything because the one thing nobody can explain is my self-consciousness. And then we start with René Descartes and all. 😉

  3. Susanna March 27, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

    The intricate and overwhelming creativity in using just those few elements and combining those in millions of ways to have as many objects as we have on this planet – just counting the living ones, even – is simply awe inspiring. I pray and worship and thank the God of the universe (and never prayed to a cross).

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